Smoking and using tobacco products have long been known to be detrimental to our overall systemic health. Many people, however, are unaware of the dental health dangers that can occur from using smoking cigarettes or using tobacco based products. Below you will find a list of the dental health effects caused by the ongoing use of tobacco.
Effects From Ongoing Use Of Tobacco Products
Use of tobacco products have direct effects on the tissues of the oral cavity. We use our mouths to smoke and chew tobacco. Chewing tobacco is in the mouth damaging tissues for extended periods of time. When smoking, the smoke is in the mouth for a short duration, but can cause extensive damage as well. The issues that using tobacco products causes include:
- Chronic Bad breath (Halitosis).
-Discolored Teeth. Nicotine and tar present in cigarette smoke and chewing tobacco, form deposits on tooth surfaces and cause discoloration of teeth. These discolorations can range from a yellowish color to a dark black. Most smokers are aware of this discoloration but it is next to impossible to remove the stains using regular home care techniques. A professional dental cleaning is necessary to complete that job.
-Dry Mouth (Xerostomia). This occurs when the salivary gland openings become inflamed. Smoking will definitely cause this to occur.
-Bone changes. This can include changes in the quality and the quantity of bone supporting teeth, which may lead to loose teeth and tooth loss. Smoking will cause a decrease in blood flow to bone tissues of oral cavity which can lead to them “suffocating” and not maintaining their health.
-Increased Risk Of Developing Periodontal Disease. Periodontal disease, chronic inflammation of the gums and bone support of the teeth, is a leading cause of tooth loss. The most recent research studies have shown that tobacco use or smoking may be one of the most significant risk factors in the development and advancement of periodontal disease. A study published in journal of periodontology highlights that smokers are four time (4x) more likely to suffer from more advanced form of periodontal disease called periodontitis. Also, the chemicals in tobacco can make any oral surgical or periodontal treatments less predictable. It appears that smoking interferes with the normal function of gum tissue cells which will cause a delay in healing of periodontal tissues. This interference of cellular actions makes people who smoke more susceptible to infections, such as periodontal disease. Every Time you inhale when smoking, the blood vessels in the mouth constrict and impair blood flow to the periodontal tissues. This decreased flow of blood to the tissues affects wound healing.
Smokers are more likely than nonsmokers to have the following issues:
-Reduced Healing and higher incidence of dry socket following extraction of teeth.
-Increased Risk Of Oral Cancer. Oral cancer affects approximately 40,000 Americans each year. Oral Cancer kills one person per hour (total equals about 8,000 deaths/year). Only a little more than 50% of those 40,000 diagnosed, will be alive in 5 years. This is quite a sobering statistic that has stayed steady for quite a few years now. Around the world, the oral cancer problem is even higher than in the United States. There are a reported 640,000 new cases of oral cancer each year worldwide.
-Precancerous tissue lesions of the gums, teeth, and lips.
-Increased Risk Of Tooth Decay.
Is It Possible To Quit Using Tobacco or Smoking?
Luckily the anser is……Yes! A person needs to be ready to quit. A half hearted effort will lead to failure. If you are truly 100% committed to quitting smoking or using tobacco products, your dentist can help with certain medications. These can include nicotine gum, nicotine patches, puffers (an artificial cigarette with nicotine only), or referral to your physician for stronger medications . Most of these are over the counter medications but others need a prescription. For example, Zyban and Chantix are prescription drugs used to help patients quit smoking, and must be monitored by your physician.
Herbal remedies, along with hypnosis and acupuncture, are other treatments that may help patients quit smoking.
Smoking and Tobacco Conclusion
Using tobacco products has a dramatic effect on our overall health as well as our dental health. We know the damage it causes and have seen great developments in treatment of the damaging effects. Cessation of smoking is the key to success to maintain a healthy lifestyle! There are many different types of treatment/therapies to help you when you are ready to quit. Speak to your dentist and physician, they may be the best way to help you kick off your new, healthier, smoke-free, lifestyle.